Wisconsin’s brewing and distilling industries benefit from Minnesota’s ancient alcohol laws

Tattersall Distilling, one of the jewels in the crown of Minnesota’s craft distilling industry, announced last March that they were opening “a destination distillery and second production facility in River Falls, Wisconsin.” As Tattersall explained in a Facebook post:

“As much as we would have loved to build a second facility in Minnesota, our state’s restrictive liquor laws forced us to look beyond our borders. (Basically if we surpassed the state’s current production limits, which we’re on track to do, we would have had to shut down the cocktail room — and there’s no way we were going to do that). Despite efforts by us and all our friends in the Minnesota Distillers Guild over the past four years, the law has remained unchanged.”

Distilleries in Minnesota can’t sell full-sized bottles, just one 375 ml (half-bottle) per customer per day, and when a distillery hits production of 40,000 proof gallons annually, they either have to stop expanding or close their cocktail room (and they can’t even sell the half-bottles to guests.) “Basically we were not able to grow or we would have to close the cocktail room, and we just were not willing to do that,” Tattersall’s founder and chief officer, Jon Kreidler, told the Pioneer Press recently.

Distilleries in Wisconsin do not face these arbitrary restrictions: “We can finally do what we want to do, and grow, and not be fighting the legislature every year for a pittance,” Kreidler explained.

Tattersall isn’t the only thriving Minnesota business whose growth is being dispirited by outdated state laws and regulations. The Pioneer Press reports:

Lift Bridge Brewing recently opened a taproom in New Richmond, Wis., for the same reason, and Two Harbors, Minn.-based Castle Danger is looking at Superior, Wis. for a second facility.

“The fact is, the Minnesota brewers and distillers, we spend half of our time just fighting the Legislature instead of running a business and growing a business,” Kreidler said. “It’s not worth the headache. Our business, once the patio is up and running this summer, we’ll have about 200 employees in Wisconsin. That’s a lot of jobs, a lot of tax revenue that went to the other side of the river.”

The real beneficiaries of Minnesota’s alcohol laws are on the other side of the St. Croix.